It is not easy or simple to tackle the re-edition of a literary classic of the calibre of Gabriele d'Annunzio's Il Piacere (Pleasure).
Nonetheless, Primago Edizioni of Italy has succeeded perfectly in this endeavor, proposing an incredible edition illustrated by the painter Nora Sciarra, aka Nora Art.
In our interview, the publisher and illustrator explain diligently how the genesis of their wonderful version came to life.
Milena Baiocco, how did your publishing house come into being?
The publishing house was born in 2017 from the opportunity to merge two of my passions: art and literature. The name was born from the union of two words: prima + immago (image) to emphasise how human narration first passed through images (cave paintings) and then through the written word.
We reiterate in the name our Mission to publish books illustrated by artists, to make each book a unique work of art made to last and cared for in every detail. We have two editorial lines: classics of Italian literature and unpublished books.
Why did you choose the use of italics for the re-edition of the classics?
Besides having an aesthetic value, being an extremely elegant font, it is meant to recall the transcription of the first texts by the amanuenses in the scriptoria. Amanuenses who, in addition to transcribing, used to historiated texts to make them easier to use. I would like to emphasise that the classics are given in full text, acquired from the first editions of the work.
How did you come to choose to illustrate the d'Annunzio classic par excellence?
Personally, I think my answer applies to all classics. They are not such because they are studied in school or because they are important for the history of literature, I believe their classicism is linked to the university of human feelings they describe. If we consider 'Il Piacere', the ability with which d'Annunzio captures human sentiment, including the lowest and most abject, of the love triangle in which the protagonist is involved, allows the reader to find himself and get involved in a text from more than a century earlier.
Not to mention Pirandello...
Nora Art, what was it like to find yourself illustrating a classic of this masterclass caliber?
When I was offered the idea of illustrating Gabriele d'Annunzio's Il Piacere by Primago edizioni, I was delighted to represent a great classic with my painting.
Also because my paintings are already very romantic so I did not deviate much from my style.
I read this beautiful book, very romantic and melancholic at the same time, and let my imagination take over.
How did you work on creating these incredible characters?
I began by imagining the man who could excite the female gender, but above all myself, so I started working by painting him and the moments that involved me the most.
It was really a wonderful experience and everything happened almost naturally without too much effort, I alternated a bit between reading and painting so I tried to give materiality to those very romantic and at times heartbreaking words of the great d'Annunzio when he was wounded in a duel.
Are there parts of the text that you consider particularly significant, so you decided to illustrate them?
I wanted to represent with the facial expression the surprise, the transformation of the man that takes place immediately afterwards.
I was very passionate but at the same time enjoyed giving life and colour to the words written by d'Annunzio.
I hope to repeat the experience soon and I thank both you and the publishing house for your attention to my work.